Lanvin and Paul Smith Menswear shows: Cool stars and stripes conquer Paris catwalks

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, reports on menswear shows from the front row of Paris Fashion Week

Two free-standing doors – glossy black, with white lintel and jambs – took centre stage at the Lanvin show. At Paul Smith, it was a cluster of terracotta-potted cacti.

Were these fragments of reality invading the elegant, artificial echelons of fashion? Or just distractions to bamboozle and detract attention from pallid and uninteresting clothes on offer? The latter is often a question cynically asked when designers clutter up a catwalk with set-piece mumbo-jumbo, especially in the irritable bowels of the final day of a given season - say, spring/summer 2015 menswear - when most people just want to forgot the clothes and get home.

Lanvin makes clothes you can forget about: which is intended as a compliment. After a winter outing that skewed awkwardly towards the attenuated figures of cool Parisian jeunes, this collection was on surer footing. The models may have had nose-rings, lip piercings and prominent bones, but it was punk in a soft-soled loafer.

Loose threads in silk and leather bristled from the seams of biker jackets or trousers, giving a tremblante delicacy. The silhouette was slouchy, sometimes to the point of slack. One pair of trousers slumped dangerously low, puddling in a kicked flare around the model's feet. That volume was weightless, techy coats curving away from the body in cocoon shapes, or the sleeves and back of a tailored coat replaced with a gossamer voile.


That voile - which also surfaced on Saturday night in an excellent Hermes show - feels summery. Which is something of a rarity. After all, European summer is winter elsewhere. Spring/summer and autumn/winter Splits are age-old, but also feel old age.

That said, Paul Smith bottomed almost every look with shorts and multicoloured, multi striped sandal-espadrille hybrids. There was something of a play on those stripes, which are of course part of Smith's bankable, multi-million pound identity. They appeared as jacquard and ombré, rainbow-hued alongside a palette dominated by navy, bruised purples and a mushy puce.

Umit Benan does want to bring the everyday to his catwalks. He showed on a cast of "real" men, and the clothes were eminently real too. The ostensible theme, as the court-painted catwalk suggested, was tennis. So we had whites, shorts,  sweats and associated Wimbledonia. How everyday. The issue? It didn't feel fashioned enough to warrant a Paris stage, even with the flashy gimmicks.

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